Gaultier’s Friki Maniquís
The French fashion designer's retrospective features animated mannequins
Entering the multimedia exhibition, it’s already clear that Jean-Paul Gaultier wasn’t satisfied with just creating a memoir of his professional life. When you go up the stairs, the first mannequin you see comes to life and starts speaking to you. You have just entered the creative and eccentric universe of Jean-Paul Gaultier.
It’s not the first exhibition the Fundación Mapfre has shown an important fashion designer. The Yves Saint Laurent exhibition, which ran from October 2011 till January 2012, was a great success. In the current exhibition, Jean-Paul Gaultier was involved in the the entire process of creation starting with the selection of the dresses.
Jean-Paul Gaultier Universo de la moda: De la calle a las estrellas includes 110 pieces from his collections for prêt-a-porter and haute-couture from 1976 to 2011. It also shows his collaboration with Madonna when he designed costumes for her tours and his work for the movies of Pedro Almodóvar.
A very interesting part is the early beginnings of his career. The exhibition includes pictures of him with his grandmother, who taught him sewing and dress-making when he was a little boy. His first model was his teddy bear who got new outfits every season. Jean-Paul Gaultier said that without this bear his entire career wouldn’t have been possible.
The question now is how does this exhibition compare to the one shown about Yves Saint Laurent. What makes it a living picture of the work of Jean-Paul Gaultier?
Entering the first room of the exhibition, voices rise from the animated mannequins and it appears that what you experienced on the stairs was not just a funny joke. When you go to the right, you end up in front of Jean-Paul himself, the mannequin, not the designer.
“Hola, yo soy Jean-Paul Gaultier… welcome to my universe.” A video message from Jean-Paul wearing a long skirt and a mariner’s shirt, smiling, joking, talking about his creations and Madonna, his muse. He is surrounded by other mannequins which also smile, greet and talk to you. You might think this is a bit creepy, but when I think about the work it took to make this show happen, it is very impressive.
Moving to the next room, we get to know his teddy bear, Nana, and see pictures of him with his grandmother. More mannequins follow (this time singing), then we see the corsets (which have become the shapes for his perfumes) and his work with Madonna.
On the wall you’ll find editorials from fashion magazines, Jean-Paul Gaultier and his many friends and collaborators, as well as pictures of Madonna wearing his designs in concerts. This way the clothes you see on the mannequins come alive in the real world.
An important part is the haute-couture dresses and the interest Jean-Paul Gaultier has in the human body. He calls himself an architect who works on the body creating his designs.
Moving on in the exhibition we pass the Punk Cancán, the Jungle Urbana and the Metropoli room to arrive at the last part; his collaboration with the cinema. This is the most creative part I would say. Men wearing dresses with female body parts attached to them, dresses in strong neon colors that look like the model is wearing big blanket and the army outfits from the movie Nikita.
An exploration into the universe of fashion, music and film you shouldn’t miss. The retrospective runs until January 6, 2013. Admission is free.
About Martha Lasia
I moved to Madrid in 2010 to work at the Universidad Autonóma. Since then I started to discover the Spanish capital, taught myself Spanish and started my blog, Madrilicious, where I do Street Style Photography and give tips on Madrid and travelling. Since September 2012 I am happy to belong to the team of ¡Vaya Madrid! where I write about Style, Fashion and related subjects.